30 November 2017

Cameroon: Fake Electrical Materials - Veritable Time Bomb

A flourishing demand in electrical items is fueling a boom in the market and rogue traders have taken advantage of this.

As the electrification rate in the country increases steadily one year into the other, so too is there an increasingly colossal market for electrical materials.

The flourishing demand has created a boom in the sector, with some rogue traders taking advantage of the trend to market fake products in order to make brisk profit.

Jean-Pierre Fogue is a Yaounde denizen who recently moved into his newly constructed four-bedroom house in the Messassi neighbourhood. He tells Cameroon Tribune he nearly lost his place of abode to flames after a defective electrical cable sparked fire.

Fogue could not tell whether the electrician who carried out the installation had a malicious intent as investigations following the damage indicated that the cables used were of substandard quality.

About four months earlier, Fogue had purchased an electrical distributor from a petty electrical materials dealer in a local market but the product hardly lasted for a month as it blow off while a pressing iron was connected to it. He suggests the electrician who got his house connected might have fallen prey to vendors who sell fake products, just like him.

Fogue's case is not an isolated one. Many are electrical material users who have complained that items in the likes of incandescent light bulbs, cables, switches, distributors and circuit breakers were glaringly hazardous.

Experts in quality control hold that the rising flow of trade across borders has fast-tracked the manufacturing and sale of fake goods, especially in a country like Cameroon with a developing economy.

A report published earlier this year even suggests that over the next ten years, there will be a rise in counterfeiting and pirated goods. The report published by the International Trademark Association and the International Chamber of Commerce cites China as being at the center of copying goods, especially electrical and electronic devices.

A petty electrical materials dealer in Tam Tam Weekend in Yaounde, who elected anonymity for fear of victimization, said he is aware he sells fake products. He told Cameroon Tribune users prefer them because it is relatively cheaper when compared to the authentic ones.

The trader also noted that he makes more profit within a short period of time. "Some buyers, upon discovering that the product is counterfeit when it gets bad shortly after purchase, come for a refund. They are often very bitter," the trader said.

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